It seems that The Great Resignation is the buzz phrase of the year. There have been many opinions (spearheaded by the media) as to what led to this mass exodus from the workforce, among the most common were laziness and search for better pay. These oversimplifications of a complex issue miss the deeper-seeded and rarely addressed problem. A recently completed study by Revelio Labs and reported in MITSloan Management Review paints a different picture, “A toxic corporate culture is by far the strongest predictor of industry-adjusted attrition and is 10 times more important than compensation in predicting turnover.” The study factored in other reasons why workers left their employer including retiring and being laid off due to extreme conditions brought on by the pandemic.
This is an important issue that is equally affecting both blue-collar and white-collar workers. Since pay has only had a moderate impact on recent attrition rates, it’s important for us to take an honest look at our organization’s workplace culture and see where there may be some misalignment. At the Forté Institute, we help organizations build culture consciously because we understand that company culture strongly impacts an organization’s ability to attract, engage, and most importantly, retain talent. Let’s take a deeper look into workplace culture, both healthy and toxic.
Forbes describes workplace culture as, "the environment that surrounds us all the time." It is the personality and atmosphere of an organization and embodies how it feels to be at work. It affects nearly all aspects of a company yet there is no one-size-fits-all template because each organization is unique. What do the attitudes, beliefs and behaviors in your work culture say about your company?
TOXIC WORK ENVIRONMENT
Toxic corporate culture is characterized by the negative atmosphere created when the company’s core values do not align with the daily attitudes, beliefs and behaviors exhibited by peers and supervisors. It makes it difficult for employees to focus or progress in their careers and is the strongest predictor of high attrition rates. Some of the contributing elements found in a toxic work environment include workers feeling disrespected, a lack of open communication, unethical behavior, poor conflict management practices, and a failure to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. (Be sure to look for next month’s article where we explore the role of DEIB in company culture.) A lack of fairness and purpose can cause frustrations that in turn can create loss of focus, dissatisfaction, and feeling de-motivated. Many burnt out and disgruntled employees reported a feeling that they were just another “cog in the machine.” These are the issues that must be rooted out that contribute to a toxic work culture.
The good news is that organizations are experiencing a wake-up call, recognizing that having the best strategy and best talent doesn’t matter if you’re culture isn’t right. These large-scale changes don’t happen overnight, but over time and with consistent, conscious effort you can grow and shift your company culture to a new place of health. Organizations have a chance to re-evaluate their priorities while building a safe environment where employees feel inspired and productive, whether they are working remotely, hybrid, or in office.
HEALTHY WORK CULTURE
A healthy workplace culture is evident in how people interact and treat each other. Beyond creating a happy workforce, a positive work environment decreases employee turnover while boosting employee productivity and engagement. This has a direct and positive effect on customer satisfaction and referral levels. A key element in cultivating this positive culture comes from leadership actively investing in their teams and employees. Establishing a culture of continuous learning in your organization will let your employees know that they are valued and that they have purpose beyond quotas and generating revenue.
The Forté Institute is a behavioral sciences firm dedicated to accelerating and supporting leaders in how they create, communicate and sustain their organizational culture. We specialize in delivering validated, data-driven reports and programs to senior leaders and their teams, ensuring high performance across the board.
We’ve been in the game a long time now and our clients span from Fortune 500 companies to universities to smaller businesses. Talk to us if you want a stronger people culture characterized by high performing and motivated teams. We have a passion for healthy and effective human interaction. Let’s build thriving workplace cultures together!
Audrey Elsberry - Sep 22, 2023
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